Do You Remember iPod Nano Games? | Big Daddy Digest

Recently, I came across my old iPod Nano that I used to use back when I was in late high school and early college. It was a little bit of a bittersweet and nostalgic moment, if I’m being honest. The iPod was quietly discontinued in May of last year (or at least quietly from my perspective since I didn’t even know that had happened until recently), and the iPod Nano was discontinued even before that in 2017. My nano is a sturdy little thing to have kept trucking all this time. I own a 5th generation, so that means it was released in 2009 and I ot mine secondhand! (Granted it has had a battery refurbishment in that time.)

However, after plugging the thing into my computer and replacing my old music taste with my new one (including several hours of recategorizing MP3s in iTunes because I have a riveting social life), I turned it on to be reminded of something I had entirely forgotten. My iPod Nano had games on it!

Now I can’t add any new games to it, Apple discontinued that functionality ages ago, but I can still play the three that were on mine already and talk about them as a bit of a trip down memory lane with you today!


The first one on the list that I had available to me was Klondike. 

This one is basically your typical solitaire game. As a result I never touched this one when I was younger, but int he alst few years, I’ve gotten pretty decent at solitaire, so I gave it a shot with my renewed capabilities. And… it’s fine. It functions well enough for the hardware that it’s running on, I suppose. It has the good grace to snap you to your options when you select a card so that you can make a choice quickly instead of having to do a lot of scrolling at least.

You see, the scrolling is the biggest thing that holds me back from just playing solitaire literally any other way. You have to move through your options by using the nano’s clickwheel and while that’s fun and novel at first, especially these days when everything is a touch screen, you quickly realize why we abandoned the wheel for the touchscreen when it came to games like this. When you have relatively few cards, it’s quick to get around, but once you’ve got some recent lines going, it can get a little tedious to go from one end of things to the other. 

I’ll admit it’s fun and novel these days, but I’m unlikely to make it a priority to play this.


Next up was Vortex. This is another one that’s a take on an existing and well loved game concept, breakout this time. Once again, it’s a fairly well done breakout game, the gimmick here being that your area to move your paddle is in a circle rather than just side to side, to take advantage of the circular pattern that you’ll be moving your thumb in as you play.

The one downside is that this doesn’t really corollate perfectly to the way you position your finger. On one hand, that makes sense,  as you don’t want the paddle to just jump from one side to the other while you’re playing, but the downside is that the difference in movement is so much that it can feel like I’m circling the pad twice around with my thumb to just move the paddle around once.

On the plus side, though, this is the one with perhaps the strongest aesthetic of the ones that I played. There’s a nice sense of depth as the ball flies deep into the screen of my iPod to break apart blocks, and everything was very legible despite how small the screen was. I remember playing this one a lot, so I guess I had something of a fondness for it back in the day too.


And last we have Maze. This is just what it says on the tin, a game that’s all about directing a ball through increasingly difficult mazes in order to collect all the waypoints and complete the levels.

This one just has this strong late 2000s vibe to it in a way that I can’t quite fully explain. It’s just something in the color choices and the design sense that remind me of the end of my middle school years for some reason. The thing about it that’s certainly late 2000s, though, is the intense focus on motion controls here. 

This is most certainly a game that was put together to draw attention to the accelerometer inside this gadget, as you have to tip your iPod around in order to move the ball like you’re playing a round of Kirby’s Tilt ‘n’ Tumble. It’s a game that ends up being a neat little novelty, but I grew bored after playing it for a few levels. It’s definitely one to be done over a longer stretch of time instead of just binged. Or perhaps the early levels just weren’t challenging me enough.

And Beyond

There were far more click wheel iPod games out there than the ones that I have access to these days, but with the functionality to get these basically discontinued, you might feel like you’re out of luck, even if you do have an old iPod lying around to indulge your nostalgia. 

Lucky for you, though, the iPod survives with a surprisingly robust modding scene that I’m going to have to spend some time taking a closer look at. And with that… there are ways to get these things working if you know where to look and have a little technical knowhow to get things working again (or have the ability to search out the instructions to give you that knowhow)! If you have the capability, I think I can recommend taking a little trip down memory lane, if only just to see just how far mobile games have come in the last decade and a half.